Welcome, and well met!

I'm a fan of pen-and-paper RPG's. That's what you are going to find on this site. Sometimes there might be a blurb about the Secret World MMO; but the focus here is my drifting through Wisconsin's gaming communities.

Links will be added as cons are visited, games are played, and authoring is published.

Wander around. Grab a tankard. Relax and immerse yourself into polyhedron geekness, Wisconsin style!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Era III: 1999 Publisherpalooza

The end is neigh! The computers will crash-crash, banks will crumble-crumble! Ya know, I always considered this year a missed opportunity in the gaming industry. It is the end of the millennia. This happens once every thousand years. I’m surprised that more companies didn’t grab hold of this easy marketing angle and come up with any Event for their game. Even if it was a single book or an one-off thing. Ah well, I’m just a dude blogging in Wisconsin. I’m sure the industry knows best.


Anyway, back to the scheduled program. West End Games partially merges with Humanoids Inc. this year and is fully acquired by them in 2001. SSDC, Inc buys out the rites to Optimus Design Systems. Target Games closes due to bankruptcy, bought out by Paradox Entertainment, then licensed to Riotminds. Neogames is based in Sweeden and is the re-creation of Target Games. Pelgrane Press came into being in the U.K. Studio Ronin spins off Ronin Arts which became dedicated to the PDF industry. Z-Man Games kicks open its doors.

In the land of game systems, here is what hit the shelves:

DC Universe by WEG, published under the Humanoids Inc umbrella. This used the Legend System, which was a variant of the D6 system.

Stargate SG-1 by WEG. This became an aborted project due to bankruptcy.

Dragon Fist by WotC. An AD&D variant campaign setting where Hong Kong cinema meets Chinese mythology.

Dark*Matter by WotC. The second campaign setting to the Alternity RPG.

Sengoku by Gold Rush Games. This is a medieval Japan-based game highlighting the mythology of the period.

Brave New World by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. A superhero game set in an alternate (and fascist) USA.

SLA Industries, by Nightfall Games joins forces with Hogshead Publishing.

A big year for White Wolf Publishing:

Guide to the Technocracy by White Wolf Publishing.

Laws of the Night LARP: by White Wolf.

Laws of the Wyld West LARP: by White Wolf.

Aberrant by White Wolf Publishing.

Hunter: The Reckoning is published as part of the Storyteller System.

Trinity is published as part of the Storyteller System.

Fading Suns 2e by Holistic Design. Dawning of the sixth millennium and the star faring humans have reached a new dark age.

Passion Play LARP: by  Holistic Design. A Fading Suns live-action game system.

Continuum: Roleplaying in the Yet by  Aetherco / Dreamcatcher. Time travel game engine that is simple but complex in its implications.

Systems Failure by Palladium Books. The collapse of civilization

MechWarrior RPG 3e by Palladium Books.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten by Eden Studios, Inc.. Survival horror in one of eleven “Deadworld” settings.

Demon City Shinjuku RPG by Guardians of Order. Based on the horror anime of the same name, a demon city has grown within the ruins of the Shinjuku district.

Dominion Tank Police is published by Guardians of Order. Part of the BESM 1st edition.

Gear Antique Renaissance is a steampunk RPG published by F.E.A.R.

7th Sea RPG by Alderac Entertainment Group using a Roll-and-Keep system. Ride the waves!

Bearers of Jade by AEG. The second sourcebook for the Legend of the Five Rings system.

Michael T. Desing’s Army Ants RPG 2e by Teddy Bear Press. Set in your back yard!

Feng Shui: Action Movie Roleplaying 2e by Atlas Games.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money by Atlas Games. A look into the Unknown Armies New Inquisition organization.

Rolemaster Standard System is the revised version of the 1995 game system by Pelgrane Press, based in London,

Nobilis by Paros Press, Hogshead Publishing, and Eos Press. This is a diceless, resource-management, and optional LARP game system. It is based upon various mythologies set in a fantasy world: Prosaic Earth, which is a lie accepted by all to explain suffering. The ‘reality’ of the Mythic Earth is one that is a flat Earth drifting near the Yggdrasil, Heaven, Hell, and all the Wyrd-ness that is associated with such things. . Play a Sovereign Power (the Nobilis), where they become the personification of Time, Death, cars, etc.

Puppetland: A storytelling Game with Strings in a Grim World of Make-believe by Hogshead Publishing. Battle it out in Punch’s oversized puppet theater!

Blade of Arcana published by Enterbrain and focused upon an epic fantasy setting of divinity.

Delta Green by Pagan Publishing. First released in ’96, a series of sourcebooks are released this year.

A Cthulhu Mythos Bibliography & Concordance by Armitage House. 2631 different Mythos stories!

C.J. Carella’s Witchcraft by Eden Studios. The first RPG to use the Unisystem rule set, players play “Gifted” magic-using humans, ‘Lesser Gifted’, or even supernatural monsters. Heavy on the neo-pagan practices.

Tales of Chivalry& Romance by Green Knight Publishing. Part of the Pendragon 4 series.

Metabarons RPG mystic-space opera by Jodoverse.

This year, from Steve Jackson Games:

GURPS 3: Black Ops
GURPS 3: Japan
GURPS 3: Myth
GURPS 3: New Sun
GURPS 3: Warehouse 23
GURPS 3: Warriors

LiVEJOURNAL is launched. In the world of MMO’s, Dark Ages from KRU Interactive, The Forth Coming, Mir 2 and the release of EverQuest by Sony Online Entertainment. Asheron's Call in the West. Square's Legend of Mana, the most open-ended in the Mana series, allowed the player to build the game world however they choose, complete any quests and subplots they choose in any order of their choice, and choose which storyline paths to follow.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Era III: 1998: All About the Stars

    A lot of space, occult, and sci-fi games came out coupled with games that represented television shows. As usual, there were the standard batch of ‘edition x’ games as well. R. Talsorian Games pulls out of GenCon over a conflict about floor space and begins a hiatus; beginning a semi-regular publishing schedule in 2006. Wizards of the Coast revived Greyhawk, although the company was in the process of eliminating some of the ‘too many’ worlds that TSR had published. Part of WoC’s ‘adjustments’ was the publication of Star Drive for the Alternity RPG. Green Knight Publishing is founded after the purchase of Pendragon RPG from Chaosium.

Gamemaster Guide by TSR. ‘Nuff said.

Gemini by Cell Entertainment. A medieval setting featuring unusual elves and dwarves.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Hogshead Publishing. Storytelling at its Munchausen-esque insanity with history, disturbed GMing and a healthy dose of booze.

Hercules & Xena by West End Games. Live the television shows!

Crimson Cutlass by Better Games. This swashbuckling RPG was first published in magazine form a decade prior, but the full edition released this year.

Sailor Moon is published by Guardians of Order. The magical girl series using the Tri-Stat system.

Unknown Armies: by Atlas Games. An occult-themed RPG of transcendental horror and action.

Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Publishing.
Kindred of the East is published as part of the Storyteller System.
Laws of the Hunt LARP: by WW.
The Shining Host LARP: by WW.

The Everlasting by Visionary Entertainment Studio. A four-book RPG that is set in contemporary times and deals with the supernatural.

SLA Industries, by Nightfall Games is started up once again after regaining rights from Wizards of the Coast. Mr Slayer and his dystopian world returns.

Tribe 8 by Dream Pod 9. The apocalypse has come and you are in Montreal… now known as Vimary. The demonic Z’bri battle the ‘Fatimas’ of the One Goddess and those who possess the dream magic Synthesis.

QAGS (Quick Ass Game System) is published after a year of development by Hex Games. Cinematic RPG with an emphasis on FUN!

Deluxe Revised RECON by Palladium Books. Return to the Vietnam era.

Marvel SAGA by TSR. A box set using the SAGA diceless rules and set in the Marvel universe of superheroes.

Tokyo NOVA: The Revolution is a cyberpunk RPG 3rd edition is published by F.E.A.R.

Deadlands: Hell On Earth by Pinnacle. It is 2094 and the doomsday bombs were dropped 13 years ago.

The Mechanoid Invasion by Palladium Books. This compilation work collects the original three Mechanoid games with a little extra material.

Alternity, published by TSR / WotC, a space travel game; but unrelated to the game of the same name published by Wayde Minami in 1982, using a custom system.

Babylon 5 war game published by Agents of Gaming. This work is considered to be part of the B5 canon.

Star Trek: The Next Generation by Last Unicorn Games. Just like it says on the box, folks.

Orbit by 6-0 Games. Light-hearted space game with dungeon-like worlds.

CORPS published by BTRC. Dice-lite and generic concept borrowing from HERO and GURPS.

GURPS 3: Traveller by Steve Jackson Games. Created on a handshake and remade into a universe where the Rebellion and AI Virus never happened. This version is often referred to at “GT”.
Also by SJG is:
The Discworld RPG. The world is a turtle.
Killer 4th edition.
GURPS 3: Egypt
GURPS 3: High-Tech
GURPS 3: Lite
GURPS 3: Russia
GURPS 3: Technomancer
GURPS 3: Undead.
GURPS 3: Wizards

In MMO’s, NCsoft’s Lineage was released. It’s a medieval fantasy MMORPG featuring action game play and a competitive atmosphere.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Era III: 1997: Half the Circle: MMORPG is Minted

This is a year of change and new stuff for the gaming world. In the real world, the United Kingdom returns Hong Kong to China. West End Games closes its doors, officially declaring bankruptcy next year. Fantasy Productions moves from producing metal figures to publishing RPGs this year, re-releasing The Dark Eye 3rd edition. Mayfair Games shuts down, but is bailed out by ICE who purchases most of the assets and restarts the operations as Ironwind Inc. Human Head Studios opens its doors as a computer game studio in Madison, WI, eventually becoming publishers of pen-and-paper RPGs. Also, Eden Studios, Inc. opens its doors officially this year.

Frontier Secrets by White Wolf Publishing. Introducing Werewolf into the wild west genre.
Changeling: The Dreaming by White Wolf Publishing. Elf punk is explored as the fair folk attempt to adhere to urban life and 9-to-5 wage slavery.
Trinity by White Wolf Publishing. Originally titled ‘Aeon’, until sued by MTV. This is a sci-fi setting of psychic orders of the future battling against aberrant threats.
Oblivion LARP: by White Wolf. Become the Wrath!
Liber des Goules LARP: by White Wolf. Become a ghoul for your master!

Cthulhu Live LARP: by  Chaosium. Player, monster, and costume design.

The Realm of Shadows by  Pagan Publishing. Also, the Delta Green contemporary setting is released for Pagan’s Call of Cthulhu RPG.

Blue Planet by Biohazard Games. Deep water based game in a dark future of humanity.

Babylon 5 Wars is released by Agents of Gaming.

Teenagers from Outer Space, the 3rd edition by R. Talsorian Games, set in a comedic, sci-fi setting.

Waste World by Manticore Productions. Attempt to survive in this post-apocalyptic world where five metrozones struggle to control the diminishing supply of Drakonium energy.

Men in Black by West End Games. Nothing weird to see here. Move along.
Unreleased Paranoia Third Edition by West End Games, prior to WEG’s closing of its doors.

Jovian Chronicles by Dream Pod 9 is re-released as a stand-alone RPG using an in-house system. This game is designed to be either / or a RPG or tactical war game.

Fuzion generic role-playing system is created by a collaboration between R. Talsorian Games and Hero Games. This system is literally a fusion; combining the Interlock System and the HERO system. Although completely generic, it is best recognized for its anime-genre support.

Over the Edge was released as a second edition by Atlas Games. Continue on with the surreal dangers within Al Amarja.

Legend of the Five Rings RPG by Alderac Entertainment Group. This is unique in the inclusion of non-combatant character types and is set in the nation of feudal Japan-esque Rokugan.

Usagi Yojimbo RPG by  Gold Rush Games. Based upon the samurai bunny comics of the same name.

The Pocket Warrior by  Plaid Rabbit Productions. Much like Fantasy Trip, this is a basic rule set designed to fit in your pocket and play on the go.

In Nomine RPG by Steve Jackson Games. Angels and demons struggle on Earth as both sides begin to find doubt in their causes. Also, from Steve Jackson Games this year gives us some flavors of heavy metal:

GURPS 3: Bio-Tech
GURPS 3: Autoduel
GURPS 3: Mecha
GURPS 3: Planet Krishna
GURPS 3: Reign of Steel

Ultima Online, released in 1997, is often credited with first popularizing the genre. The term MMORPG was coined by Richard Garriott, the creator of Ultima Online. Previous to this and related coinages, these games were generally called graphical MUDs.
Happy Fathers Day weekend! I’m going to go ride my bike.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Era III: 1996; Singing Cowpokes, Hong Kong Action, and D6

Some new-ish ideas hit the market this year, while many tried and true systems are bought out and revamped, or simply re-issued after errata clean up.

Biohazard Games reaches folks with its supplement Killer Crosshairs (a hit location aid).

Guardians of Order publications is founded, launching their ‘Magnum Opus’ program that would license the company’s intellectual property to third parries to create new games. They founded the Tri-Stat system.

The SAGA System is introduced, using cards over dice. The cards also represent levels and the level of consciousness (no cards = unconscious).

The d6 system is published by West End Games. Also this year is published Star Wars LARP, Indiana Jones Adventures, and Tales from the Crypt by West End Games.

Deadlands is published by the Pinnacle Entertainment Group. 61 years earlier, Gene Autry stumbles upon an ancient subterranean civilization under his Radio Ranch. The Weird West comes to life. In this game, the Wild West of 1876 gets a little… undead-er.

The Masquerade LARP: by  White Wolf Publishing. Edition 2, big vamps no boffers.

Chivalry & Sorcery 3e by Highlander Designs.

HarnMaster 2e by Columbia Games. Crunchy hit-location combat rules, allows for home-brewed magic spells.

Dragonlance: Fifth Age is published as an accessory to the SAGA system by TSR. This is a box set is heavy on stylish look, a strong system, but weak on polished substance; requires the DM to literally write their own specific house rules.

Warhammer Quest by Games Workshop. Related to Advanced Heroquest, including a RPG rule book.

Blood Dawn is published by Optimus Design Systems. A d20 system where characters are humans or mutants in a 21st century Earth timeline. Something of a mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements with a post-apocalypse feel to it.

Fading Suns by Holistic Design, Inc. This space opera RPG is set in a future medieval-analogue empire that has taken over the ruins of a much more advanced (human) galaxy-spanning civilization’s ‘relic jumpgates’. Very Dune-esque.

Marc Miller’s Traveller from Imperium Games. Known as T4, this edition was wrought with errata and suffered from cross-reverence overload.

Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game is also published using the SAGA system. This marked the third ‘Marvel Hero’ based game (including TSR’s 1984 / 1986 Marvel Super Heroes Game and Marvel Comics’ Marvel Universe RPG).

BESM (Big Eyes Small Mouth) is published by Guardians of Order. This is an anime / manga-based action game based on such works as Sailor Moon, Dominion: Tank Police, Demon City Shinjuku, and Tenchi Muyo!

Hong Kong Action Theatre! by Event Horizon Productions. Hong Kong films, from gangster to wuxia, to ancient ghost stories. Crazy stunts and turbo charged action.


GURPS 3: Alternate Earths by SJG.
GURPS 3: Dinosaurs by SJG.
GURPS 3: Goblins by SJG.
GURPS 3: Places of Mystery by SJG.
GURPS 3.5: Basic Set by SJG.

MMORPGs as defined today began with Meridian 59, innovative both in its scope and in offering first-person 3D graphics, with The Realm Online appearing nearly simultaneously. Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds in South Korea.
Night Slave was a shooter RPG released for the PC-98 that combined the side-scrolling shooter gameplay of Assault Suits Valken and Gradius, including an armaments system that employs recoil physics, with many RPG elements such as permanently leveling up the mecha and various weapons using power-orbs obtained from defeating enemies as well as storyline cut scenes. Treasure's Guardian Heroes allowed players to alter the storyline through their actions, such as choosing between a number of branching paths leading to multiple different endings and through the Karma meter which changes depending on whether the player kills civilians or shows mercy to enemies
Wiki enters the scene, eventually brining play-by-wiki games to the market.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Era III: 1995; Tweaking Some of Last Years Stuff

This year seems to be a continuation of the previous years efforts. Some new games, some new publishers, some new-ish ideas getting a new version by different publishers. Weirdly new, yet still the same old same old, yet there are some interesting mixes in mechanics and concepts…

Cheapass Games opens its doors, with the understanding that gamers have plenty of dice, counters, play money, etc. Thus; their marketing strategy is this: put good games in simple, white envelopes, small boxes, or plastic bags and let the consumer provide the other materials from their home ‘stock’. James Earnest left WotC this year to make the concept a reality.

Fantasy Flight Games is founded by Christian T. Petersen.

The Nightspawn, Nightbane lawsuit. I’m proud to say that I purchased a copy of the ‘illegal’ book before it was pulled from the shelves. It turns out that Todd McFarlane has trademarked the word “spawn”. Thus, when Palladium Books released the Nightspawn game, McFarlane sued for copywriter issues. Palladium pulled the line, renamed it to Nightbane and released the otherwise unchanged game.

GMT Games downsizes and introduces the “Project 500” system. This allowed customers to vote via pre-order for the games they wanted to see produced. The pre-orders enabled discounts that would allow folks to commit, yet not make payment on, the game in question until its required order number is reached (and thus production is enabled).

On to the RPGs!

Rokugan replaces the land of Kara-Tur as the official oriental setting in D&D.

Spell Law by ICE. This is the fifth release featuring Rolemaster 3 rule system.

Rolemaster Standard System, Rolemaster’s third edition is released from I.C.E..

Everway by WotC is designed by Jonathan Tweet. It is a diceless multiverse game and is heavily image-based with simple / flexible rules. There is a ‘Fortune Deck’ that works as the randomizer mechanic, the results are sill arbitrary and subjective.

FUDGE, by Grey Ghost Press. This is the upgraded version of the game released in the year previous.

TWERPS 2e by Reindeer Games. The worlds easiest game system is retooled and set loose!

CORPS 2e (Complete Omniversal Role Playing System) was created in 1990, and published by Blacksburg Tactical Research Center this year. A modern / science fiction heroes game that is dice-light.

Battlelords the CCG is released. This is a spinoff card game based upon the Battleords of the 23rd Century RPG.

Tokyo NOVA is a cyberpunk RPG 2nd edition is published by F.E.A.R. and an update to the previous years first edition.

FSpaceRPG by FSpace Publications is debuted at KapCon. This is a hard sci fi game set in the late 22nd century as humans expand out to the stars.

Cyberworld: Dark Ages of the 21st Century LARP: by Dark Age Games. It is a uniting of Mind’s Eye Theater and Cyberpunk 2020.

Mekton Zeta by R. Talsorian Games. In this release, rules are given to build virtually any mecha, from a sports car to kilometer-long starships.

Tank Girl by WEG. Set in 2029 on the ruins of humanity and the weirdness of the comic / movie that was created by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin.

Paranoia ‘Fifth’ edition is published by West End Games. This is considered to be the decline of the Paranoia line, with far more cartoonish illustrations, less dark humor, and ‘cheap’ pop culture jokes. In actuality, this is the ‘third’ edition, after two second edition revisions.

The World of Necroscope by West End Games. Play in Brian Lumley’s world of the ESPionage agents.

Nightbane is published by Palladium Books. The Dark Days have fallen upon earth, people are taken through mirrors, shadow magic reigns, and monsters rule the day.

Wraith: The Oblivion is published as part of the Storyteller System. Play as a spirit dealing with fetishes and unfinished business, while existing in the cultures of the spirit realm.

Steve Jackson Games, do you have anything to present to the class?

GURPS 3: Blood Types
GURPS 3: CthulhuPunk
GURPS 3: Greece
GURPS 3: Robots
GURPS 3: Voodoo: The Shadow War

Decipher Inc has the Star Trek CCG game license, and this year, they acquire the Star Wars CCG licensing from Lucasfilm. By next year, the Star Trek license will be increased to the full line of live action licenses.

The Ruins of Cawdor is the third and final installment of the Shadow of Yserbius series. Another milestone came in 1995 as NSFNET restrictions were lifted, opening the Internet up for game developers, which allowed for the first truly "massively"-scoped titles. Square's Seiken Densetsu 3 allowed a number of different possible storyline paths and endings depending on which combination of characters the player selected. The game also introduced a class-change system that incorporated light-dark alignments. America Online and Prodigy offers access to the World Wide Web.

Sadly, the final (original) Calvin and Hobbes comic is published on December 31.